Summary: Are Heaven and Hell real? Will Jesus return? Is death the end?
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#9 – Last Things
When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder
Jesus Will Be What Makes It Heaven?
“If you read history, you’ll find that the Christians who did most for the present world were those who thought the most of the next world.” -- CS Lewis
“In 1952, Florence attempted to swim the 26 miles between Catalina Island and the California coastline. As she began, she was flanked by small boats that watched for sharks and were prepared to help her if she got hurt or grew tired. After about 15 hours a thick fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it. She swam for another hour before asking to be pulled out, unable to see the coastline due to the fog. As she sat in the boat, she found out she had stopped swimming just one mile away from her destination. Two months later, she tried again. The same thick fog set in, but she succeeded in reaching Catalina. She said that she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam. She later swam the Catalina channel on two additional occasions.”
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
When Bishop Philip Brooks, author of “O, Little Town of Bethlehem,” was seriously ill, he requested no friends come to see him. But when an acquaintance of his named Robert Ingersoll, a famous anti-Christian propagandist, came to see him he allowed him to come in right away. Ingersoll said, “I appreciate this very much. Especially when you aren’t letting any of your close friends see you.” Bishop Brooks responded, “Oh, I’m confident of seeing them in the next world, but this may be my last chance to see you.”
1. Jesus will return.
"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:11
Christians have (and still do) disagreed about when or how. Will there be a 1,000 year reign of Jesus on earth? Will he come before, during or after the great tribulation?
I have my beliefs… but I don’t really care. The point is, Christians have NEVER disagreed about this basic fact: Jesus will come back, just as he promised.
2. Heaven and Hell are real places of physical existence.
"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-- those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death… And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night…"
Revelation 22:8, 14:11
But there is another option: HEAVEN.
What is heaven like?
ILLUS> from Huckleberry Finn:
Then she [Miss Watson] told me all about the bad place, and I said I wished I was there. She got mad then, but I didn't mean no harm. All I wanted was to go somewheres; all I wanted was a change, I warn't particular. She said it was wicked to say what I said; said she wouldn't say it for the whole world; she was going to live so as to go to the good place. Well, I couldn't see no advantage in going where she was going, so I made up my mind I wouldn't try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble, and wouldn't do no good…”
“Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn't think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.Read more at location 97